Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: February 11, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr spent the night in jail after trying to sneak in and see Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D. The cops didn’t believe him that he was trying to watch the latest remake of Thunderball. Sadly, they just saw a pervy looking fat guy squealing and crying with a group of thirteen year old girls. Fortunately, he had a chance to catch the other movies of the week, including Gnomeo and Juliet, Just Go With It and The Eagle. He also gives a little bit of love (what’s left of it anyway after spending the night in lock-up) to the Oscar-Nominated Shorts.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Kevin is joined in the Magical Studio in the Sky by Andrew Robinson from Gmanereviews.com.


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Studio: Touchstone

Rated: G

Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham and Maggie Smith

Directed by: Kelly Asbury

What it’s about: It’s a retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story with lawn gnomes and much less tragic death.

What I liked: I do like a good animated movie, and this one fits the bill on at least some levels. It’s cute. It’s in 3D and uses the process to really push things in your face (call it gimmicky if you’d like, but I’m okay with that). It’s also only a bit more than 80 minutes, so it’s short enough to endure with relative ease even if you’re not wild about it.

Plus, the voice cast is a lot of fun, especially Jason Statham as Tybalt. You could do a lot worse for an outing with the kids this weekend. The film is a bit of an enigma, skewing younger with story but having a bunch of references that grown-ups will get while they sail over the kids’ heads (including a frightfully bizarre American Beauty nod).

What I didn’t: While Gnomeo and Juliet isn’t terrible like many of the direct-to-DVD sequels of popular animated films out there, it’s nowhere near the quality of DreamWorks Animation or Pixar. It’s also curious that in the development of the film, John Lasseter killed the production at Disney, only to have it produced by an outside company (and strangely enough Elton John… but hey, the guy has a kid now, so he’s making cartoons). It was then released by Touchstone rather than the Disney label. This doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to the end user, but it shows the studio’s hand at how much faith it has always had.

My biggest beef with Gnomeo and Juliet is that the entire film has been born from a bad title pun. It shows, being really forced with jokes, other puns and stretches of story and character just to remain a Romeo and Juliet allegory but still be good for kids.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and anyone not exhausted from bad puns.

Grade: B-

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language

Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Brooklyn Decker and Bailee Madison

Directed by: Dennis Dugan

What it’s about: Adam Sandler plays a guy who pretends to be married to a horrible woman in order to land one-night stands with no strings attached afterwards. When he falls for one of his conquests, he has to convince his pretty assistant to pose as his soon-to-be-divorced wife.

What I liked: Brooklyn Decker’s fun bags. Damn!

What I didn’t: God damn it! I’m getting so sick of Adam Sandler’s movies that are nothing more than his own wet dreams. In Grown Ups, he was married to Salma Hayek (while buddy Kevin James was married to Maria Bello). In Funny People, he was banging everything that moved. In this movie, he gets a free trip to Hawaii to make out with Brooklyn Decker and Jennifer Aniston. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame him for taking the job. Hell, I would in a heartbeat.

Ultimately, the premise for this movie is utterly ridiculous. I’m about Adam Sandler’s age, I’m chubby like Sandler is and I’m only mildly attractive like Sandler. So I went to a bar the other night and hit on 23-year-old hotties by showing them my wedding ring and telling them that my wife is an abusive, psychotic hooker. And instead of getting hella laid, I got kicked in the nuts more times than I thought would be possible.

But even if you get past the silly and forced premise of the movie, which is about as cohesive as the one for The Heartbreak Kid, the writing is choppy and awkward, the characters are two-dimensional and the jokes fall completely flat.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who liked Grown Ups, which was sadly many.

Grade: D

Studio: Focus Features

Rated: PG-13 for battle sequences and some disturbing images

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Donald Sutherland and Tahar Rahim

Directed by: Kevin Macdonald

What it’s about: Channing Tatum plays a Roman soldier who travels into northern Britain with his slave to retrieve a golden eagle that was stolen from his father’s regiment years ago. During the journey, he learns more of this history of the enslaved British people and the truth of what happened to his father’s regiment.

What I liked: I like a good Roman war movie. Throw some sweaty guys into the dirt with sandals and old-fashioned Fabio armor, and I’m there. I don’t care how that makes me sound. We haven’t had a good Roman battle film in a while, and those that we have had were films like Clash of the Titans that were more fantasy films than anything else.

I will say that The Eagle kept my interest. The battle sequences were pretty strong and brutal for the PG-13 rating, and while Channing Tatum gives a flat performance in anything he does, he seems made for this role.

Plus, the film’s setting in the highlands of Scotland is a unique place for this type of movie. It’s not the greatest warrior movie out there, but it was interesting to watch.

What I didn’t: Aside from some shaky acting with Tatum trying to carry the movie on his broad and manly shoulders, the film isn’t strong across the board. It delves into Roman politics a bit, but even then it gets a little too full of itself and becomes a bit of a flag-waving film for that era.

Plus, there’s some interesting analogies between the tribes in Scotland presented in this film and the Native Americans with how they dealt with invading Europeans. These just get too heavy-handed at times, and the movie steps on its own message by trying to be a British Dances with Wolves but falling back into the presentation of the Scottish tribes as brutal savages.

Who is gonna like this movie: People dying for a sword-and-sandals war film.

Grade: B-

Studio: Shorts International

Rated: Not Rated

What it’s about: The fifteen short films nominated for the Academy Award are presented in theaters and later next week through iTunes.

What I liked: I’ve always enjoyed the blocks of short films that are nominated for the Oscar every year. In fact, some of these diminutive films are better feats of moviemaking than the big-budget flicks that get nominated for the big awards.

The animation block is my favorite, with Pixar’s Day and Night (which played ahead of Toy Story 3 last summer) being the best. But the lesser-know The Gruffalo is right up there as a brilliant animated tale about a mouse talking smack to the predators of the forest. Also, the out-of-the-box short film The Lost Thing is a bizarre and sweet story of finding one’s place in the universe.

The live-action shorts are also well done, though decidedly more dramatic. My personal favorite is God of Love, which is a hip, modern cupid story that just makes me smile. The Confession is a dark look at guilt, and Na Wewe is a situational thriller about being at the heart of an ethnic cleansing stop in war-torn Africa.

These fifteen short films (including the five documentary shorts, which I did not have a chance to screen) are easily the most entertaining and best choice out there this week for quality entertainment.

What I didn’t: I have a soft spot for the short film medium, and particularly, I love the animation block. While I support short films in all their incarnation and am thrilled to see these little-seen gems get some distribution and recognition, not all of them our my favorites. Let’s Pollute in the animation block is a bit preachy and tries to be ironic while shoving a message down your throat. In the live-action block, The Crush wasn’t as well made as the other four with some awkward plot moments and bad lines. Still, it’s better than most short films you’re going to see out there.

Who is gonna like this movie: Someone looking for something different to watch this weekend.

Grade: A

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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